Leave it to a motorela driver to tip off government forces into the lair of the elusive Abu Sayyaf bandits who dropped by Inabanga town, Bohol province two days before Holy Week to victimize foreign tourists and visitors to the province.
As per latest count, there were four Sayyaf bandits that died in another firefight with soldiers at nearby Clarin town last Saturday. Among those who died was Joselito Milloria, the Boholano native who married a woman related to one of the bandit members and went by the name of Abu Alih.
There were three more bandits that remain unaccounted for but the military and police have declared this early that the three are no longer a threat and only one of them is armed.
They are also surrounded by troops and police who will move on them the second they leave their cave lair where they were said to have holed up following their narrow escape from a firefight and air strike launched by troops in the leadup to Holy Week.
But credit largely goes to the motorela driver who got boarded by two of the bandits and reported it to the police after dropping them off somewhere near their lair.
The bandits may have known that their presence will be reported sooner or later but based on the driver’s description of them, they had no other choice. The bandits looked haggard, disheveled and hungry.
That they bought P400 worth of bread along with their unusual accent somewhat confirmed to the motorela driver that they were not natives of the place and convinced him to report their presence to the police.
This positive development came after days of dead end leads and information that turned out false such as eyewitness accounts of armed men in Olango Island and Muslim travelers detained in Oslob town, south of Cebu City.
The deaths of two of the men that led the Abu Sayyaf into what would eventually be a failed operation on their part should send a strong, clear and unmistakable warning to the Abu Sayyaf bandits who plan to victimize innocents for profit.
They should have been, to use a military term, neutralized rather than allowed to escape to assure the populace that these bandits will be dealt with decisively.
But better late than never.
At the same time, the motorela driver should be rewarded for his effort even if reporting suspicious looking characters to the authorities is part and parcel of one’s civic duty to the country.
We trust that Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto, the police and the military will find a way to reward him for his valuable assistance since it was President Rodrigo Duterte himself who promised to give P1 million for information leading to the whereabouts of these bandits.
More than that, we hope that the troops finally flush out these bandits and that this incident would further embolden citizens to become vigilant in monitoring and reporting criminal elements to the police and law enforcement agencies.
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